Sunday, March 31, 2013

Egyptian Symbolism

    Egyptian Symbolism

Egyptian Symbols were often used to depict ideas which would be difficult to elucidate through more concrete modes of expression. These ideas, thoughts, beliefs or perceptions often transcended the realms of reality. Egypt’s symbolic orientation can be confirmed by the fact that these symbols were not just used as architectural embellishments but they also held a sacrosanct place in rituals related to religion and magic.

Eye of Horus or Eye of Ra
Symbolizes healing and protection. 

Egyptian Alphabet

    This symbol represents the Underworld or Land of the Dead. 

    The Ankh was used to symbolize eternal life or the existence of life in the netherworld. It is also used in Egyptian hieroglyphics to represent life and living. 
    However a completely contradictory theory states that the ankh is a symbol of the male and female genitalia. The ankh symbols found in the New Kingdom depicted a triangular structure in the loop at the upper end. This was interpreted as a representation of the triangular female mound. The long stump that extended down was considered to be the phallic representation while the horizontal dissecting line stood for the children or the union between the male and female
    A third theory states the ankh symbolizes the movement of the sun or more specifically the sunrise with the central lop representing the sun or Ra a principle deity in the ancient Egyptian Religion while the stump was used to depicted the path of the sun and the horizontal line was used to represent the horizon.
    The Ba is what we might call someones personality. It would leave the body at the time of death. During the days the Ba would make itself useful, at night it would return to the tomb. At this time, it would look for the person to which it belonged. This would be the mummy, however, often the egyptians would supply the Ba with a statue in the likeness of the deceased in case the mummy was lost or damaged.
Canopic Jars   
    During mummification the internal organs were removed and placed in four containers. These containers often have human or animal-headed stoppers. 
      Imsety: The human headed guardian of the liver

Hapy: The baboon headed guardian of the lungs
Duamutef: The jackal or wild dog headed guardian of the stomach.


The Red Crown. This was the crown that represented Lower Egypt (northern).


It is believed that the Djed is a rendering of a human backbone. It represents stability and strength. 
Feather of Maat
    Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. I

Fetish of Osiris
    An animal skin hanging from a stick, this is a symbol of Osiris and Anubis.

Flail and Crook

    A symbol of royalty, majesty and dominion.

    The White Crown. This was the crown of Upper Egypt (southern).

    This symbol represents a heart. The Egyptian believed the heart was the center of all consciousness, even the center of life itself.

symbol/west.gifThese symbols represent the west or western desert AKA the land of the dead. The horizon on which Ra dies at night and enters the underworld.

    The ka is usually translated as "soul" or "spirit" The ka came into existence when an individual was born. 


Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. Deities are often seen standing on this symbol, as if standing on a foundation of Maat.


    The Gods or having to do with the gods.

Palm Branch
    The Egyptians would put a notch in a palm branch to mark the passing of a year in the life of a pharaoh. It symbolized the measure of time.


This symbol depicts the sky as a ceiling which drops at the ends, the same way the real sky seems to reach for the horizon. It symbolizes the heavens.

 Primordial mound

The Egyptians believed that during creation this hill rose out of the sea of chaos to create dry land. 

    The sun was the primary element of life in ancient Egypt, we find this importance reflected in the art and religion. Some of the most popular gods had a solar connection. 

    This symbol means protection. 
    Called the dung beetle because of its practice of rolling a ball of dung across the ground. The Egyptians observed this behavior and equated it with the ball of the sun being rolled across the sky. They confused this balled food source with the egg sack that the female dung beetle laid and buried in the sand. When the eggs hatched the dung beetles would seem to appear from nowhere, making it a symbol of spontaneous creation. In this role it was associated with the sunrise.
This is a representation of the pavilion used in the Heb-Sed ceremonies.

    This is a symbol of authority.

    A Lotus Flower. This is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth. Because at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again. According to one creation myth it was a giant lotus which first rose out of the watery chaos at the beginning of time.

    A pool of water. The Egyptians portrayed bodies of water by means of equally spaced vertical wave lines. When these lines are inclosed by a rectangle it denotes a lake or pool. The Egyptians believed water was the primeval matter from which aII creation began. 
    A loop of rope that has no beginning and no end, it symbolized eternity. The sun disk is often depicted in the center of it. The shen also seems to be a symbol of protection. It is often seen being clutched by deities in bird form
    More commonly know as a cartouche. The shape represents a loop of rope in which a name is written. A protector of that name. 

    The sistrum was a sacred percussion instrument used in the cult of Hathor. The sistrum consisted of a wooden or metal frame fitted with loose strips of metal and disks which jingled when moved. This noise was thought to attract the attention of the gods
    This bird is called the Lapwing, it is identified by its head crest, Its wings are pined back preventing it from flying. This symbol signifies a group of people. 
    The exact origin of this symbol is unknown. In many respects it resembles an ankh except that its arms curve down. Its meaning is also reminiscent of the ankh, it is often translated to mean welfare or life. 
    The sound eye of Horus. Symbolizes healing and protection.

    The cobra is an emblem of Lower Egypt.  It is used as a protective symbol, the Egyptians believed that the cobra would spit fire at any approaching enemies.

    Literally translated it means "to answer." It is a small mummiform figure placed in tombs to do work in the afterlife on behalf of the deceased.

    This is a symbol of power and dominion. 

Winged Solar Disk
    This is a form that the god Horus Behudety (Horus of Edfu) takes in his battles with Seth.

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